REVISITING THE CHRISTMAS MOUSE IN THE CALENDAR 2016

Posted by: on December 13, 2016

December greetings to my blog readers! I posted the blog below a number of years ago during this time of year. It still  tends to be one of my most popular blog entries — people read it throughout the year! Thus, I decided to re-post it during this holiday season. I am thinking a great deal about the time of political turmoil in which we are living.  I am trying to encourage my students in teacher education to always remember  that we always have the power  to  influence everyone and everything around us. Even as we seek to filter and recognize the incendiary and sometimes misleading information circulating on the Internet,  we must have the courage to find and act on what we believe is true and right. Every day, where we live and work, there are countless opportunities to light the way for others by directing our thoughts, our words, and our actions toward the common good . This is a really great time of year to take advantage of those opportunities! 

The Christmas Mouse in the Calendar

Christmas Mouse Calendar

When I first began working at my current university, we had a department secretary who sold Avon products.  This was something very new to me; I was adjusting to a lot of new things after moving from New York City to the hills of Western Pennsylvania. However, as soon as our secretary handed me the Avon catalog, I decided that a purchase was in order. Perusing the section on Christmas items, my eye fell on a cloth Advent calendar with a cute little mouse that moved daily from the first pocket at the start of December all the way to pocket 24 on Christmas Eve. It’s been a long time now since I bought that calendar, but I continue to greet it fondly each year as I hang it in its customary spot.  Placing the little mouse in pocket number one, I anticipate its all-too-rapid speed to number twenty-four. As much as I try to treasure time and hold on to it, especially during the holidays, it continues to rush by. Today, it seems impossible that the little mouse is once again resting in pocket twenty-four. Very soon now it will return to the box where I keep my Advent collection, and rest quietly in the basement until Thanksgiving weekend next year.

As we all know, life like time moves only in the direction of forward. We can’t slow it or stop it, but we do have a lot of control over what we do with it. I think that one of the most important things that we can do with time is work as hard as possible to enhance the lives of others.  This belief of mine is affirmed every year during the holiday season.  Much of December can seem blurred with the sense of an overwhelming rush of time and expectation. Yet, it is a month that provides us with the priceless opportunity to remember that each day can be filled with small greetings, gestures, and kind acts that cost us nothing but make life so much better for others. Our own daily intention to live in a way that helps others to live in peace may well be the key to our own happiness and satisfaction.

Many of my experiences as a college professor remind me of the importance of efforts to enhance the lives of others every day. For example, toward the end of the semester in mid-December, I was having a conference with one of my students and the cooperating teacher with whom he had been placed for a field experience. Sitting in an empty classroom as we talked together, I could hear the voices of many children in the other classrooms and in the hallways.  During the meeting, the cooperating teacher shared what it meant to him now to look back on a career that provided the opportunity to have had a genuine effect on so many people. When the meeting was over, I stayed to talk for a few more minutes with my student. I wanted him to really think about what the words of his cooperating teacher had meant in terms of his own career.  It would be very important for him to also be able to look back one day and feel wonderful about his impact on others. He might accomplish some big things – graduate degrees or awards or promotions. But ultimately the “big things” would pale beside the knowledge that, every single day, he had done everything he could to enhance the lives of as many of his students and colleagues as possible.

I think that’s the most important lesson that I learn from my calendar mouse every year. December will rush by for sure! But every day of the holiday season is rich with the opportunity to think of others and to act with intention to reduce suffering and increase justice and peace wherever possible. Knowing that the days will inevitably pass, the opportunities to do good become even more precious.

Peace and love!

Written by Beatrice S. Fennimore a teacher educator focused on advocacy and social justice for all children

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